Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

The Leopold Center is a research and education center on the campus of Iowa State University created to identify and reduce negative environmental and social impacts of farming and develop new ways to farm profitably while conserving natural resources. The Center's work is focused in these initiatives - ecological systems research, marketing and food systems research, policy research and cross-cutting research that bridges all areas (water, energy, soil and alternative farming systems).

Happy Earth Day!

Celebrate the Earth and what covers it - our soil! April 22 is Earth Day, which began in 1970. This year more than one billion people in 192 countries will participate in this annual event and related activities, making Earth Day the largest civic observance in the world. We join the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in reminding people that the sustainable solutions for meeting the Earth's future challenges are right at our feet -- in the soil. NRCS offers these 5 reasons why we should "root" for soil health this year:

  1. We rely on soil for our food and fiber, and we’ll need to grow a lot of food in the future – as much in the next 40 years as we have in the past 500.
  2. There are fewer acres of land to grow the food we need. Globally, millions of acres of cropland are lost to development or resource depletion, so we need to protect our working lands from erosion and desertification.
  3. Weather extremes like drought and climate change pose increasing food production challenges. Healthy soil is more resilient – it infiltrates and holds water better, which can help reduce flooding.
  4. There is growing competition for water and other food production resources, so let’s optimize those inputs and maximize nutrient use efficiency, all helped by healthy soil.
  5. For years, we believed that a certain amount of cropland soil erosion was inevitable. Now we know that by conservation techniques like cover crops, no-till and diverse crop rotations build soil.

More about the national USDA-NRCS campaign, Unlock the Secrets in the Soil. [Photo courtesy NRCS]